Oh, Boy: Britain’s Newborn Royal Prince Gets Straight to Work

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WILL OLIVER / AFP / Getty Images

A crowd gather outside Buckingham Palace in London on July 23, 2013

Correction appended: July 24, 2013

Raucous celebrations outside Buckingham Palace and the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington extended into the balmy night, long after the announcement that the Duchess of Cambridge had safely delivered a baby. Britain is in the pink. Yet more than a few Britons are feeling distinctly blue. The nation had succumbed to a collective delusion that the royal bundle-to-be was definitely a Princess, set to emerge into the world as the first girl born with equal opportunity to rule, after changes to the archaic rules of succession that gave boys automatic precedence over their sisters in the line to the throne. “We need more Queens,” said Helen Mirren, actor and British national treasure, who has single-handedly helped fill that need with star turns as Elizabeth II on screen and stage. So the revelation, at 8:31 p.m., of a new Windsor Prince drew cheers, but grumbles too.

“A boy! 8 lbs 6. Born at 4.24. Have to say I’m disappointed it’s not a girl,” exclaimed Channel 4 News reporter Katie Razzall on Twitter. “Grand news but is it bad to say wd have been more fun for us if a girl?” chimed in Jane Martinson, women’s editor of the Guardian newspaper, the only news organization to install a Republican Button on its website, giving readers the option to switch off all royal news. “Boo. I wanted a Queen,” tweeted Susie Boniface, a former tabloid journalist, better known as the wryly irreverent blogger Fleet Street Fox. “Still, I suppose he could still be…”

(PHOTOS: Britain’s New Prince: World Watches Royal Baby’s Birth)

Being a boy is just the first hurdle for Prince Cambridge, who unlike most newborns already has a career and a packed diary. He’s preparing for a first appearance, possibly as early as today, when his parents take him home from hospital. Royal officials said the family was not expected to leave the hospital before 6 p.m. and could stay overnight. “We would like to thank the staff at the Lindo Wing and the whole hospital for the tremendous care the three of us have received,” William and Kate said in a statement. “We know it has been a very busy period for the hospital and we would like to thank everyone – staff, patients and visitors – for their understanding during this time.” The newborn’s first announced visitors were Kate’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton, who arrived Tuesday afternoon and stayed for a little more than an hour. Upon leaving St. Mary’s, Carole Middleton gushed to reporters about the “absolutely beautiful” child.

As evening fell, first-time grandparent Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived to see the little royal. After a brief visit, the two emerged from the Lindo Wing, Charles remarking upon his “marvelous” grandson to the media scrum still gathered, anxiously awaiting a glimpse of the child and his parents. But the Prince of Wales let it slip that the big unveil might come soon. “Wait and see, you’ll see in a minute,” he said as he got back into his car. Kensington Palace confirmed this in a statement, noting that Kate will be discharged from the hospital Tuesday night and will travel home to the palace.

It was a worthy nightcap to a day of celebration. Earlier in the day, at 2 p.m. London time, his tender eardrums were surely buffeted as Westminster Abbey, the scene of mom and dad’s wedding, let loose peal after peal of bells, and a series of gun salutes resounded through the capital, 41 fired in Green Park and 62 at the Tower of London. These gestures were meant to welcome him but were also a reminder that this is a baby who can’t afford to sleep on the job. His second public appearance will likely be a full-on photo shoot within a week or so. A lifetime of being photographed stretches out before him.

If you could wish something for the infant, it might be that he has inherited the Middleton rather than the Windsor ears. But Prince Cambridge will need at least one key element of the Windsor constitution: the quiet sense of destiny. As the freshly installed third in line to the throne, he holds a key role in public life, tasked with ensuring the survival of the monarchy through this century and quite possibly into the next. In Britain that doesn’t look like too tall an order, as the Guardian acknowledges today, risking inducing queasiness in its republican-minded readers whose feelings its editors have been so careful to spare. “The royals can rarely have seemed more secure,” the broadsheet’s lead editorial observes. “Will Britain in 2065 still be a state that has at its apex one individual whose place is decided by birth? Since the one thing that we have learned in the last 50 years is that monarchy has a logic-defying resilience, it looks as if the answer could be yes.”

(MORE: U.K. Welcomes New Royal Baby Boy)

But the status of the monarchy is less certain in the 15 other countries where the Queen is head of state — Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas. Three former realms have voted to become republics since the Queen came to the throne: Ghana and South Africa in 1960 and the Gambia in 1970. Plebiscites in Tuvalu, Australia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines failed to secure majorities for severing their links to the Crown, but republicanism garners significant support in many corners of Britain’s former empire. Portia Simpson Miller took office as Jamaican Prime Minister in January 2012, arguing for ditching the royals. Her main opponents agreed. Then in March 2012 Prince Harry deployed to the island, not in his day job flying helicopters for the British military but as a one-man charm offensive on an official royal visit, marking Grandma’s 60th year as Queen.

(PHOTOS: Great Expectations: Kate Middleton’s Maternity Style)

Harrymania ensued. Bickering among the country’s political classes over the shape of any future republic has also helped put Jamaican republicanism on ice for the time being, but the response to the Prince showed “that although it is given to denying it, the rank and file in Jamaica is hugely interested in anything associated with the royal family,” wrote Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., in an e-mail to TIME ahead of the royal birth. Birns added, “[The royal baby] bestows good news and a feeling of goodwill to the royal family.”

Baby Cambridge may not be a girl, but he is primed to emulate Uncle Harry in boosting the royal brand with Prince power. First he needs a name, one that can sound regal as required but lends itself to affectionate tabloid headlines. Bookmakers report that George, James and Alexander are leading the field. Whatever the choice, this is a baby born to be Prince Charming.

— With reporting by Qhelile Nyathi

MORE: The Great Kate Wait: TIME’s Complete Royal Baby Coverage

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MORE: TIME’s 1982 Story About the Birth of Prince William

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the Channel 4 News reporter. She is Katie Razzall, not Razzell. Also, it wrongly referred to both Prince Charles and his wife Camilla as first-time grandparents. Camilla has grandchildren from a previous marriage.

32 comments
deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Catherine, as always. I still hope for William and Kate to give the Prince an unpronounceable symbol for his name. It would be interesting to see what happens to the monarchy if Scotland goes independent - from small scale issues like properties owned there to family ties to the bigger existentialism overall, though I'd guess everyone will find a way to move on ...or maybe the Scots won't vote to leave. The Jamaicans, Australians, and Canadians haven't yet.

ChandraPanchabhikesan
ChandraPanchabhikesan

History in the making as the young Prince is nurtured in the best British traditions.  The most important factor is that the child is healthy.  Education and upbringing will certainly be of the highest quality but the child will be taken through the paces of a normal child as the child's parents are determined not to spoil the child with too many privileges; he has to earn them as he grows.

Pancha Chandra Brussels.

Herceg
Herceg

"Have to say I’m disappointed it’s not a girl"; "wd have been more fun for us if a girl"; "“Boo. I wanted a Queen. Still, I suppose he could still be…" and finally Mirren said "“We need more Queens”. 

No, Mrs. Mirren, what we need is LESS MISANDRY in the media. I am SHOCKED how this kind of blatant hatred against the male sex has become so systemic and institutionalized, it not only goes unnoticed, but is the norm in our society. I am truly disgusted. A baby is born and an illiterate "blogger" is BOOING the baby because he's a boy!?

I wih all the luck to this conservative and therefore happy couple. And for the little prince - I hope he arms himself with male intelligence, bravery, patience and self-confidence. In a world feminazis have created, he will need it.


Krishna Lama
Krishna Lama

Maybe the royals are an anachronism but still they are part of history...even if royalty were to be done away they would continue as ordinary citizens....what was in the past should remain there and let the present royals continue...they do not have blood on their hands

Brett Jaye
Brett Jaye

Royalty and religion in the 21st Century.....no hope for humans.

Phoenicia
Phoenicia

Democracy is not the absence of royalty, but the commitment to treat every person with the respect due to royalty.  For decades, we have witnessed a media warfare between those who believe in royalty and privilege and those who do not.  What if we could realize that royalty is a symbol, when it is used rightly, of the sacred worth of every individual.  Instead of treating non royals or underprivileged people as trash or garbage or dirt, what if we encouraged people to treat others as they would want to be treated, a very old formula, but one that captures both our need to respect figureheads and our need to promote equality.  I pray that every baby has a royal birth...a desire that confronts both pro-choice people who use "abortion" as a code word for mistreating their opponents and, at the same time, confronts those pro-life individuals who are desperately concerned with unborn babies and then refuse to fund basic health, nutrition, and education for poor children once they are born.  There is a place for royalty in the 21st century, seeing every person as the cherished prince or princess they were born to be.  If our religious, government, and media leaders taught us to respect each other, instead of treating our opponents as animals, maybe we could learn to work together to help everyone.  Yesterday, Scientists announced they can now transform salt water to fresh water with an inexpensive, efficient method.  Maybe miracles do happen?

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

A prince is born in 21st century. We read about British kings in Shakespeare's plays. Kings include King Lear, Cymbeline, Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Henry VIII, King John, Edward IV and Edward V, all kings of England, the King of France in All's Well that Ends Well and the Henry VI plays, the King of Navarre in Love's Labor's Lost, three Scottish kings in Macbeth, Claudius, King of Denmark, Kings of Sicily and Bohemia in The Winter's Tale, and the King of Troy in Troilus and Cressida. As a student, I was fascinated by the acts of Richard II, Macbeth and , of course, Hamlet. Now to the long line of succession, a Prince is born. We welcome him.

AliceWalker
AliceWalker

Congratulations to the parents on their new bundle of joy. Now, i wonder how it would have been received in the media if they had a girl and a bunch of guys were reporting on how they wish it would have been a boy. I think this gets blown out of proportion by everyone to start with, it's definitely a good thing, but lets allow the people some fort of privacy as well.

Ginny Walker
Ginny Walker

umm because I can can...thanks for asking :)

Patti McDoggy
Patti McDoggy

why bother to post here if your so negative?

Patti McDoggy
Patti McDoggy

Why post here if your such a sad sack?? Change your life if your so darn miserable.

Keryn Woo
Keryn Woo

Honestly, I feel sad about the new-born baby who has his life scheduled by some stupid adults.

Ginny Walker
Ginny Walker

aww poor kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth...I feel for him...NOT!

ShamsAci
ShamsAci

Besides welcoming the newborn prince of the UK Royal family I world say:

Who knows the new born prince to the UK royal family would become the king during his lifetime! Whereas, his grandfather as well as his father are already on the line while Prince Charles, the new born prince's grandfather is almost 70.May the UK new born prince be blessed!

- A.R.Shams's Reflection

minstral111
minstral111

@Nzubechukwu Ezeiru You really don't like here.